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For most of the season the topic of conversation in regards to the New England Patriots has centered on the performance of the offensive line. While that unit has at times deserved scrutiny, the return of Sebastian Vollmer has seemed to have stabilized the group. Overlooked has been what may be the real Achilles heel for this squad as they battle the Denver Broncos on Sunday: the team’s third down defense.
Three weeks ago the Arizona Cardinals bludgeoned Green Bay in a shockingly one-sided 38-8 victory. Saturday evening the Packers will have an opportunity to prove that game was an anomaly as they travel to Glendale for the first of this weekend’s NFC Division Round playoff games
Thanks to the epic meltdown by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers advance in the NFL playoffs – and the New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs rather than Cincy in the division round of the 2015-2016 post-season.
In a 180 degree swing from last week, all four home teams are favored in this weekend’s NFL division round playoffs. The Patriots are favored by 5 over KC, Denver by 6½ over Pittsburgh, Arizona by 7½ over Green Bay, and in the closest line Carolina – the team with the NFL’s best record – is only a 3-point home favorite over Seattle.
The final game of wild card weekend pits the Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins. During the off season Green Bay was expected to be a Super Bowl contender, and the Pack is in the post-season for the seventh consecutive season. Washington on the other hand was viewed as being one of worst teams in the league before the season began; this is just their second winning season in eight years, and their last playoff victory came ten years ago when Joe Gibbs was still the head coach for Washington.
The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings square off Sunday in what will be one of the coldest games in NFL history. To combat temperatures that will dip below zero and a wind chill of more than 20 below, both teams will be utilizing severe cold weather gear from a Minnesota company that specializes in extreme weather garments.
The Week 14 game was one of the chippiest of the 2015 season, a game that where many lambasted the officiating crew for letting the game get out of hand. That NFL handed out five fines to players following that game, but the NFL – in yet another questionable decision – has assigned the very same crew to officiate this game. Welcome to the world of decision making by Roger Goodell and his minions.
NFL wild card weekend kicks off Saturday afternoon as the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Houston to take on the AFC South champion Texans. Both clubs overcame the common obstacle of extremely unsuccessful starts to the 2015 season; Houston did not win their second game of the year until Week 6, and KC did not get their second victory until the following week. To accomplish that rare feat both teams leaned heavily on their defenses, both of which ranked in the top ten in the league in points allowed. After a five-turnover debacle against Denver in Week 2, the Chiefs gave the ball away just ten times over the next fourteen games, and finished with a plus-14 turnover differential – second best in the league this year. On December 27 the Texans lost to the Patriots to drop to 6-7 and their playoff chances appeared bleak. Houston’s defense forced ten turnovers over the next three games to carry the team to an improbable comeback, and into the post-season.
The NFL regular season is supposed to reward teams with the best records with an advantage in the playoffs, but Vegas handicappers differ with their opinion. Of the four teams playing at home in the first round of the NFL playoffs only one is favored to win. Despite all the disparaging comments about their division, the NFC East lays claim to the only home favorite in the wild card round. The Washington Redskins are the sole lone favorite this weekend, and that is by just one point – despite the traditional three points being placed in favor of the home team. The Packer playoff mystique is long gone after last week’s home loss to the Vikings
|NBC Sports Boston - Sep 25th, 2021|
|TheAthletic - Sep 25th, 2021|
|clutchpoints.com - Sep 24th, 2021|